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Gavin Newsom signs law to send schools record funding, add new grade, summer programs

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Gavin Newsom (copy)

California Governor Gavin Newsom talks during a news conference at Universal Studios in Universal City.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday signed into law legislation to send a record $123.9 billion to California schools, which will fund a new transitional kindergarten grade and more opportunities for summer and after-school teaching.

Newsom and lawmakers still have not announced a final budget deal, but the bill Newsom signed Friday represents agreement on a huge part of the state budget. California law requires much of the state's tax revenue to go toward education, so Newsom and lawmakers have limited control over the overall dollar amount, but they can dictate how the money is spent.

The bill Newsom signed creates a new grade in California public schools called transitional kindergarten, which Newsom and lawmakers say will create a better education foundation for the state's children. The law aims to implement transitional kindergarten for all California 4-year-olds by 2025.

The new law also adds money for after school and summer programs, funds free school meals for all students and adds money for schools to hire more staff. It also includes money to help students who fell behind when the state switched to remote learning to avoid spreading COVID-19.

At a bill signing ceremony at a Napa elementary school, Newsom noted that California's unexpectedly high tax revenue this year is allowing the state to fund the programs.

"This is unlike anything we have ever done in this state," Newsom said just before he invited a group of school kids to help him sign the bill. "So many things we promoted, so many things we dreamed of — we're delivering when we sign this bill here today."

Although Republicans in the Legislature applauded the record funding amount for schools, some argued that the bill goes too far in dictating how schools can use the money.

"I am afraid this bill will result in a tremendous amount of frustration for our local schools because it moves away from the fundamental principle of local control and, unfortunately, adopts a one-size-fits-all approach to delivering education," Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, said before lawmakers voted to pass the bill Thursday.

Democrats in the Legislature strongly backed the bill. Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, said the bill achieves many of the priorities she and her fellow Democrats have pushed for years.

"My heart's full, because for so many years — I've been in the Legislature for five years — we worked really hard to try to get us where we are today," she said at the Napa bill signing event. "By the signing of this bill, governor, you're changing lives."

After the 2020 Junior Livestock Auction was forced online by COVID-19, bidders and youth agriculture groups returned to the Expo on Saturday to showcase pigs, goats, cows and sheep in person.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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